A garden diary lets you look at the past and future

A garden journal or diary chronicles what happened in your garden in the past so you can anticipate what's coming in the future.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Hunt.
The Bourbon rose Souvenir de la Malmaison is scheduled to make an appearance in early April in Lynn's Hunt's Maryland garden.

There’s nothing like snow, blustery winds and freezing rain to make one long to turn the calendar ahead to May. Thumbing through enticing and beautifully photographed garden catalogs helps brighten these dreary days, but doesn’t completely console me. I fear it will take the sight of a jaunty jonquil or the intoxicating scent of a damask rose to melt away my winter blues.

Fortunately I know exactly how long it will be until I can get a sniff of my first spring posy – because, over the years, I’ve made notes of when my roses and other important plants will begin their new parade of blooms.

For example, in looking back at this year’s wall calendar, I’m confident that on April 13, 2010, I’ll see at least one showy Souvenir de la Malmaison in the garden. It has been blooming around that date since the late 90s and never disappoints.

I also know I can plan on seeing male hummingbirds zipping around the garden about four days later. And the next week, another Bourbon rose, Zephirine Drouhin, and the David Austin charmer Cottage Rose will make their spring debuts.

Fireflies will light up the evening sky beginning May 15 -- a sure sign that summer is on the way.

Anticipating the day the garden will burst into bloom can be a tonic on a cold winter’s day. But having a rough idea of when each variety will be at its best is helpful when planning special outdoor events.

Your “diary” needn’t be more time-consuming than jotting down a plant name on a standard calendar, then updating bloom dates yearly.

But don’t dismiss the idea of doing a more elaborate journal. Some people add photographs, even their own paintings, and include notations about plants, insects, weather conditions and so forth. Such a journal can be an invaluable garden tool and an informative heirloom.

I wrote extensively about my vegetable garden one particular year. I kept the notebook going only for a season, but still enjoy going back to reread my entries.

And it’s probably no coincidence I had my best veggie garden ever while I was so attentive.

So if you’re suffering from flower withdrawal and the winter blahs, consider sowing some spring aspirations now in a personal journal or diary.
It may just give your gardener’s soul a chance to blossom early.

PSSST: Mercifully, the shortest day of the year has passed so I now have less than 100 days to wait for my first flush of rose blooms. Hurry spring!

Lynn Hunt, the Rose Whisperer, is an accredited horticultural judge and a Consulting Rosarian Emeritus for the American Rose Society. She has won dozens of awards for her writing in newspapers, magazines, and television. She grows roses and other plants in her garden on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Editor’s note: To read more posts by Lynn, see our blog archive. The Monitor’s main gardening page offers articles on many gardening topics. See also our RSS feed. You may want to visit Gardening With the Monitor on Flickr. Take part in the discussions and get answers to your gardening questions. If you join the group (it’s free), you can upload your garden photos and enter our next contest.

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